Belonging to the Magnoliaceae family, the “Liriodendron tulipifera” or American tulip tree is an ornamental tree named for its tulip-shaped flowers. Introduced in France in the 18th century, this outdoor deciduous tree distinguishes itself by its rapid growth and incredible longevity. Undemanding, the tulip tree is easy to maintain and only needs very little care to grow and thrive. 

A native of the eastern United States, the tulip tree is a beautiful outdoor tree of which the height generally varies between 100 and 200 feet. Even if it does not bloom after many years, the tulip tree has an incredibly long lifespan that extends over several centuries. Consequently, planting a “Liriodendron tulipifera” in one’s garden is a true natural legacy that is bequeathed to future generations. Recognizable by its majestic conical bearing, its tender bark and its beautiful yellow orange flowers, the tulip tree can be planted alone or combined with shrubs and bedding plants. After a few years, the first blooming occurs towards late spring to unveil small delicate flowers of which the shape strongly resembles that of tulips. Nevertheless, it is only after the summer that the tulip tree is most appealing, adorning itself with beautiful fall colours distinguished by elegant shades of gold.

How to plant a tulip tree? 

When you buy your young tulip tree in a nursery, opt for a medium-sized shrub that already has a conical shape and beautiful healthy leaves. In general, tulip trees should be planted in early fall, before frost, or in mid-spring after frosting temperatures have completely disappeared. Before planting, choose a sunny location where the air is neither too humid nor too dry. Choose rich, fresh and well-drained soil, taking care to avoid calcareous grounds as much as possible. During the set up phase, gently remove the rootball from the pot and lightly moisten it in order to favour a better recovery of the roots which are usually quite fragile. Dig a deep hole to stimulate good rooting, stronger branching and better adhesion to the ground. Once your tulip tree is in place, pack the ground and water generously to avoid the formation of air pockets that would damage the root system.

How to maintain a tulip tree? 

Once planted, the tulip tree requires very little maintenance. In terms of watering, it will be necessary to water your young tree about three times a week to favour rapid and harmonious growth. A regular water supply is particularly critical to the tulip tree given that this ornamental tree greatly appreciates very fresh land. Although the tulip tree is hardy, its tender and relatively fragile bark can often be damaged due to frequent bad weather. Therefore, you can preserve your young shrub with a winter veil to protect it from frost and bad weather. However, this will be useless later on, as the tulip tree is fairly resistant to frost and cold when it is older. With regard to disease, tulip trees are generally very sensitive to verticillium, a particularly aggressive fungus that attacks the tree’s bark and branches. In the case of a confirmed attack, the tulip tree will need to be cared for with an appropriate fungicidal treatment such as copper sulphate. If the branches are only slightly damaged, the tree should recover its vitality after a few successive supplies of fertilizer. Nonetheless, it is essential to eradicate the fungus as soon as the first signs of contamination appear in order to prevent the tulip tree from completely decaying. Finally, know that the leaves of tulip trees can sometimes be victim of brown spots known as leaf spots. Harmful to the tree’s health, these spots can also be eliminated using copper sulfate. Apart from these two diseases, the tulip is a very resistant tree that can bloom every year for nearly five centuries.

Related posts:

  1. Planting and maintaining an ash
  2. Planting and maintaining cherry trees
  3. Planting and maintaining a fig tree
  4. Growing Lebanon cedar
  5. Growing hazelnut trees

Published in Flowering shrubs by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011